Sunday, January 21, 2007

Theistic Fatigue

Odd, isn't it, that in the 21st century people still argue about "God"? Some people choose to disbelieve in things for which there is overwhelming evidence (e.g., the age of the earth, global warming, the existence of dinosaurs in prehistoric times, the biological process of evolution, etc.) but seem to have little trouble believing in a Supreme Being who is personally interested in the thoughts and behavioral choices of every single human on earth.

Now, don't judge me as some out-moded humanist, a post-modernist cynic, or a religion hating secularist. I am a religious person, humbled by the contemplation of the mysteries of life, devoted to the study and practice of spirituality. In fact, I am a seminary educated, baptized, confirmed, and ordained member of the Christian tradition. But I am concerned about all the violence, anti-intellectualism, strife, and bigotry perpetuated by competing theologies in our world.

We are each entitled to our opinions, and there are plenty of realities in our universe that we simply can't pin down with current technologies. Belief is important and we won't all believe the same things. But if beliefs can vary so widely, and if proof is not necessary to support a belief, then how can mere belief be reason enough to deny equal rights to same-gender loving people?

You see, it's easy enough to exclude or vilify the "Other" claiming that such rejection or oppression is actually the will of "God." But eventually, such irrational prejudice disguised as values must be seen for the damage causing error that it is. As one Johnny Depp character says, "Villainy wears many masks, but none so dangerous as the mask of virtue."

Martin Buber said that to hallow life was to encounter the divine. Durant Drake said that human idealism is what we are calling "God." Sidney Mead said that our search for God is actually our search for reality. "Every picture of God is a self-portrait," said J. Frank Schulman. And Theodore Parker said to love people is how we actually love God. So many thinkers, so many views, but all demonstrating that a belief in God need not lead to a demonization of others.

God isn't the reason people hate or fear one another. Whatever is ultimately Real, whatever can be called divine, is the universal life force flowing through all beings. The real "God" is expressed as same-gender love, opposite gender love, non-sexual love, human potential, hope, kindness, compassion, wisdom, beauty...all that promotes life and welfare and harmony (as opposed to that which promotes fear, confusion, animosity, and injustice). Is belief in God reasonable? It can be. I even think it should be. But a reasonable god is not the cause of homophobia, cruelty, or oppression of any kind. I believe in God - but apparently not the same kind of god that seems to be at the root of the world's most bitter conflicts. God, have mercy.

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